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Anthropologist to speak during Phi Beta Kappa centennial celebration

Crystal Ligon, News Bureau

Released 3/22/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The 100th anniversary of the founding of the University of Illinois chapter of Phi Beta Kappa will be marked during a two-day visit in April of a Phi Beta Kappa visiting scholar.

Raymond DeMallie, the Chancellor’s Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University, will visit campus April 9-10, through the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program.

An invitation-only centennial celebration of the Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the national liberal arts and sciences honor society, will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. April 10 (Tuesday) in the atrium of the Beckman Institute, 405 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana. During the reception, English professor Richard S. Powers, winner of the National Book Award, will be given the inaugural Alumni Scholars award from the local chapter. The award will be given annually to an Urbana-Champaign graduate whose contributions to scholastic, intellectual or cultural life exemplify the highest ideals.

The visiting scholar program designates 13 to 14 distinguished scholars to visit college campuses and universities each year. Each scholar speaks informally with students, participates in class discussions and gives a public lecture open to the academic community.

DeMallie’s lecture, “Black Elk, Holy Man of the Lakotas: An Anthropologist’s Perspective,” will be given at 4 p.m. April 9 (Monday) at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center, 602 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana. It is free and open to the public.

DeMallie’s research focuses on social organization, belief systems, oral traditions and the material culture of the Plains Indians of North America.

DeMallie received a bachelor’s degree with honors in 1968, a master’s in 1970 and a doctorate in anthropology in 1971, all from the University of Chicago. He then joined Indiana University, working extensively with the Sioux and Assiniboine peoples in North and South Dakota, Montana and Saskatchewan.

Much of his field work has been linguistic, recording texts of historical traditions, myths and tales. He parallels his field study with archival, library and museum studies to discover, edit and publish major sources on the Sioux and Assiniboine past. He also has been asked by the Indian people to assist in legal cases in support of treaty rights.

DeMallie founded the American Indian Studies Research Institute in 1985 at Indiana and became its director. The institute, supported through numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and other sources, has been responsible for documenting endangered native languages and developing materials for teaching those languages in tribal schools and colleges.

On Feb. 26, 1900, Katharine L. Sharp, as secretary of the organization formed on campus of 12 Phi Beta Kappa members, wrote a letter to the Rev. E.B. Parsons in Williamstown, Mass., applying for a charter for the U. of I. On Sept. 12, 1907, the national council granted the charter, the third in Illinois.

Lifetime Phi Beta Kappa memberships are offered to outstanding students in liberal arts and sciences. Each year, the top 7 percent of the graduating class, and the top 1 percent of the junior class in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Illinois are invited to join.